PBOT details fix for Marine Drive rumble strip slip-up

PBOT details fix for Marine Drive rumble strip slip-up

A reader sent in this photo of the method used
by a PBOT contractor to warn people about
the dangerous and incorrectly installed
rumble strips on Marine Drive.

PBOT’s effort to implement safety upgrades on Marine Drive as part of their High Crash Corridor program took a bit of a detour last week when one of their contractors incorrectly installed rumble strips in the bike lane near NE 122nd Ave. The grooves in the pavement have created dangerous bicycling conditions and have sparked major concerns from road users.

Because the of the incorrect installation and location of the grooves, the usable biking space has been cut in half (creating a space so narrow that it falls below even FHWA standards). And when you are forced to roll over them, the impact is so jarring it could lead to crashes, swerving, equipment failure, and so on.

Thankfully, PBOT admitted the error and they’re working to make things right.

After hearing concerns from several road users, PBOT contractors placed cones in the bike lane to warn people of the rumble strips. Unfortunately those cones created their own hazard as they were hit by motor vehicle operators and strewn about the lane. Once they heard about the poor cone placement, a PBOT spokesperson responded to a citizen complaint via email by stating:

“given your mention that the cones are not properly positioned, I’ve asked PBOT staff to follow up with the contractor so that the placement of the orange cones can be modified or corrected… and I’m asking PBOT staff (under separate email) to consider your suggestion for improved warning notification.”

As for the rumble strips themselves, PBOT is working with their contractor to repave the entire application area (300-feet on either side of the intersection with NE 122nd) and re-install them correctly. According to PBOT, the rumble strips are necessary because this intersection has the highest crash rate on all of Marine Drive (29 turning-related crashes and 16 rear-end crashes between 2001-2010).

We learned this morning that in addition to rumble strips, the plan was to narrow the lanes leading up to 122nd and widen the shoulder/bike lanes. Here are more details from a PBOT statement (emphases ours):

For 300′ on either side of the intersection, the approaching lane was treated with centerline and shoulder rumble strips. In these segments, the center double yellow lines diverge to narrow the travel lanes, and the shoulder lines should move toward the center of the roadway to convert the travel lanes from 12′ to 9′. This type of treatment has been effective in reducing crashes and lowering speeds at intersections because the narrowed lane causes drivers to slow down and drive more attentively through intersections.

In this case, the shoulder line was supposed to be moved 1-1.5 feet toward the center and the rumble strips were to be installed next to the new line. In addition, the rumble strips are supposed to be 7″ wide; it appears that the ones on the roadway are more than a foot wide. The design that was supposed to be in place would have left as much shoulder space as was there before this project.

So there you have it. Not only were the rumble strips made too wide, they were installed in the wrong place and the fog line was not moved where it was supposed to be. Hopefully once this is all made right, there will be an overall improvement to bicycle access in this stretch of Marine Drive. And let’s also hope PBOT and their contractors get this right when they eventually install more rumble strips in the bike lane between the airport access road and NE 185th.

As of press time, PBOT spokesperson Diane Dulken was unable to give us a timeline for when the fixes will be made. “We’re working as quickly as we can,” she said.

— Learn more about the changes slated for Marine Drive as part of its High Crash Corridor Safety Plan here.

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